James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘homosexuality’

‘Unbearable’ Japanese gay marriage experiment fails

Posted by James McPherson on November 26, 2008

Japanese experts have encountered a sex problem that can’t be cured by Viagra or Cialis, nor is it caused by repeated watching of commercials for those products. It can’t even be blamed on the “arranged marriage,” which is common for these types of relationships.

The funniest story on CNN today states that Japanese zookeepers have finally figured out they keep failing in their attempts to mate a couple of polar bears: Both bears (along with the “brother” of one) are female.

Aside from the fact that the zookeepers apparently were chosen by the same method George W. Bush used in naming key members of his administration, the failed experiment might provide a valuable reminder to politicians, religious leaders and voters who base their arguments against gay marriage on their own religious principles or on the the belief that homosexuality is a “choice.”

I have no idea what makes someone gay, any more than I know what makes a Japanese polar bear straight. Nor do I care. I do notice that the key figures involved in both relationships apparently pay more attention to a multitude of issues other than their sexuality, even if outsiders keep trying to interfere with their sex lives. Nonetheless, as bears and even Utah legislators might point out, the tide is moving against the anti-gay forces. The military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy may be on the way out (and not just because we’re running out of “straight” soldiers). Many Americans, including politicians, now favor non-discriminatory civil unions.

Some also argue that churches should not be quasi-governmental agencies that “legalize” any marriage, gay or straight. Those critics point out that modern marriage laws violate the separation between church and state favored by early Americans. If legal marriage becomes simply a civil requirement (with churches allowed to add or withhold any religious blessing they choose), some of the arguments against gay marriage probably will fade.

Thanksgiving Day will mark 30 years since gay activist (and Korean War veteran) Harvey Milk (the topic of Sean Penn’s new film) was assassinated. Thirty years from now, I predict that my committed gay friends will be able to marry, and that very more Americans will consider such unions to be more a sign of “family values” than they are “unbearable.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

MSNBC can’t out-Fox Fox, makes another course correction

Posted by James McPherson on September 8, 2008

Though it may be hard to believe for someone with a typical American attention span, not long ago MSNBC tried to be as conservative as Fox News. That strategy became particularly obvious when the network dumped Phil Donahue, blaming poor ratings despite the fact that his program was the most popular show on MSNBC, after he was deemed too liberal during the early stages of the Iraq War.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, MSNBC did have the popular Keith Olbermann as a token liberal but bracketed his show with programs hosted by conservatives Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson. Laura Ingraham once hosted an MSNBC program. So did conservative flamethrower Michael Savage, though he was fired for telling a gay caller: “Oh, you’re one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig.” Chris Matthews had a program, but was still in his kiss-up-to-anyone-in-power mode rather than the liberal stance he has since adopted.

After flailing along for period that unfortunately included the early part of the Iraq War, trying to out-Fox Fox, the network then decided to steer hard left, becoming the equally annoying liberal counterpoint to the ironically sloganed “fair and balanced” network. Ingraham was long gone, later to move to Fox. Carlson’s show was dropped. Scarborough was relegated to the early morning hours and election commentary, where he could be insulted by Olbermann.

Now MSNBC seems to be recognizing that its best news people are the ones who stay in the middle, and has demoted Olbermann and Matthews during election coverage. It’s probably too little too late. As for me, I’ll continue to watch them all at times, checking in on the zoos at MSNBC and Fox while putting the most faith in the coverage and commentary of PBS’s Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields and David Brooks.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Animalistic homosexual behavior

Posted by James McPherson on June 1, 2008

A fairly common argument used to browbeat homosexuals is this version offered by a blogger who felt compelled to share his views (along with poor spelling and punctuation) on allphilosophy.com: “Homosexuality is unnatural, simply look at nature, when did you ever see a male animal sexualy pleasuring a male animal or a female animal sexualy pleasuring a female animal?” Perhaps those folks need to get outside more, as Fox News and MSNBC both report.

Though I’ve never understood how my own marriage of more than 27 years is “threatened” by gays getting married, a new round of fear and rage has erupted because of the California Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. Of course, as a recent Nation editorial points out, gay Californians already had most of the rights of married couples, anyway–and the tide is moving against those who oppose gay unions just as it drowned out legal barriers to interracial marriage.

It’s worth pointing out that civil unions are far from new–and that John McCain deserves some credit for discussing the issue (however uncomfortably) with Ellen (clip below), even if his (and the Democratic candidates’) stance is outdated and silly.

Posted in History, Politics, Video | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

American Family Association shows you what not to watch

Posted by James McPherson on May 21, 2008

In its ongoing campaign to “protect” the family, the AFA is protesting a gay kiss in the soap opera “As the World Turns.” That’s not news, of course; the AFA is consistent in protesting what it calls the “Homosexual Agenda.”

What is different in this case is that the AFA wants you to see it for yourself. So far I don’t see any ads for California’s gay wedding industry linked to the site, and there’s no way to tell how popular the video clip has become, but it will be interesting to see if the organization decides to employ the same methods in its fight against such things as pornography, popular films and “Oprah’s new church.” If so, AFA Web traffic is likely to go way up.

Posted in Media literacy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »